Thursday, October 20, 2011

Outta My League

I have a charming, smart, funny, sweet, amazing, blue eyed 10 year old son.

Except when he's not.

And then I have a sarcastic, rude, smart mouthed, always gotta get the last word in, irritating 10 year old son.

One of my dear friends once told him, "You are very smart and you can use it for good or evil."

Lately it seems that he has chosen evil. PURE. EVIL. Directed at yours truly.

And I have no idea where to go from here. I am an early childhood teacher...or I was until I got laid off. I know all the developmental milestones, providing an enriching environment, dealing with challenging behaviors, blah, blah, blah.

And I don't know what to do. There I said it.

I have always told Big Yankee that my degree is birth - 8 yrs. After that we are screwed. 

Yep SCREWED with an uppercase S..hell SCREWED in all caps.

He is a very smart kid...thus the reason I refer to him as Einstein.

Once he started talking he NEVER stopped. He asked the tough questions, used larger words than typical for his age and had a way of connecting things that just cannot be explained. 

When he was four he was self appointed foreman of a dirt pile at the neighborhood park. The HOA wanted the dirt spread around to even things out. He took a clipboard and walked the block (3 houses long) recruiting the other kids for shifts. No I am NOT kidding and NO I did not have anything to do with this. Kids would berate the carpool mom for not driving home fast enough after pre-k. They had a job to do and they did not want to disappoint.

In kindergarten his teacher worked with the GTC (Gifted Talented Creative) teacher to challenge him. It had to be done on the sly since our district does not identify enrichment students until first grade and GT (Gifted & Talented) until second grade. Einstein didn't need help with his homework and whizzed through it. He could look at a math problem and do the calculations in his head. 

He would come home from school and Google to his heart's content. He would write a two paragraph paper on red-eared sliders because he wanted to. He participated in Enrichment classes but sought more challenges. 

When Einstein was in second grade they sent home a permission slip for testing. There was a miscommunication when I asked if testing would effect his enrichment placement and I understood that he would still be pulled out for some more advanced work.  I wasn't fully aware of what we were dealing with at the time. I still thought he was just an extremely verbal and curious kid who caught on to things quickly.

We turned down the opportunity since he was going to get the same services no matter what. What was the point of putting him through unnecessary testing if it wasn't going to change anything?

A few weeks later his classroom teacher contacted me and requested that we consent to testing so they would be able to offer him more interventions-accelerated learning, curriculum compacting, and differentiation to name a few. Once I learned that our state requires an IEP for gifted services we were all over it.

And so began our journey as parents of a special needs child.

I often think of gifted kids as the ugly red headed step sister of special needs. Many people don't see the challenges involved in parenting these kids. They say things like "oh you're so lucky you don't have to worry about him in school. It all comes so easy to him..blah, blah, blah."

They have NO idea.

What do you think- do gifted children have special needs? Do parents of gifted kids get less support?


Angela said...

oh, i could wax philosophical on that question all. night. long. but i'll try to be brief.
i have one of those. he's even 10 (in 3 days). but you'd never know it from his test scores and grades. because in addition to being of above-average intelligence, my son has bipolar disorder and ADHD. at least, those are the diagnoses--i often wonder if anyone really knows what the problem is, other than he seems possessed by demons no one knows how to exorcise.
i, too, was "gifted," but that was some 30 years ago, when the extent of GT was shipping us off to a different school on tuesdays and telling us to think outside the box. i didn't want to think outside the box. i was 9, severely depressed, and had the self-esteem of a gnat. i just wanted to be normal.
i'm pretty sure that's what my son wants, too.
yes, you have big challenges ahead of you--keeping him interested, keeping him focused on using his intellect toward positive ends, watching out for signs of disillusionment and boredom.
but like the others, i have to also tell you--you're lucky. "just" gifted can be a pretty spectacular thing.

Chasing Joy said...

I'm not a parent but my initial thoughts are that a "special needs" child's parents may worry about him or her being able to finish school get a job and be independent. I imagine a "gifted needs" child's parents may worry about the same things but more from the social point of view than the actual abilities point of view (I hope that makes sense).

I have a brother how could be described as gifted. Artist, musician, reads text books for fun. He also had social problems fitting in with others, anger issues, and what I describe as OCD. On the one had he has the mental abilities to take care of himself. But his social problems have left him as a dependent of his mother. He did not finish high school and does not work.

I think you are smart in recognizing your "gifted" child's can be just as challenging.

Sorry to ramble on. :-)

Robbie K said...

So you child is 3X exceptional? I imagine that must come with a whole other set of challenges. Luckily the state I live in requires an IEP for services so I don't have to fight like some people to get what their child needs. I am quite certain that he has some other challenges as well...they are certainly manifesting at home but i just can' quite put my finger on it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Robbie K said...

It sounds like your brother had some other challenges too. Was he diagnosed/getting help with any of those? One of my biggest concerns is how to continue to challenge my son and keep him motivated.

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

I definitely think gifted kids have special needs in the sense that they need more than is provided in a typical classroom and they can be incredibly challenging to their parents. As a parent, you assume you will be able to have all the answers for your kid for most of their childhood. That's not the case with the smarty-pants bunch. Our 4 YO asked me why telephones start with the number "1" and calculators start with the number "7". I had no freaking clue. And she has also been this way since birth. But her younger sister who will be 2 in a few weeks talks even more than she did (compound sentences) and asked for a computer for her birthday. Le sigh. I'm of above-average intelligence and already am in no way capable of meeting their needs. I'm quite confident that when they finally reach kindergarten, they will be so bored that something will have to happen. My prayer is that they have incredibly awesome teachers who realize their potential and harness their energy for doing good. My fear is they will brand them as ADD kids who need drugs to mellow them out. (Not that I'll go that route.) Sorry for the long reply. This was a great post. My favorite part was where you said you were only certified to know how to raise them til age 8. :)

Anonymous said...

My 6 year old is extremely gifted and extremely challenging. Her pediatrician told me that the good news is I won't be paying for college. The bad news is getting her there is going to be a bumpy ride!

The Preppy Girl in Pink said...

I think all kids have special needs. Some in different ways than others but all of them need focus on some part of their personality, brain, heart, physical name it. The problem is finding out what you can support them with and still make it feel special and not like it is such a challenge. When someone figures that part out, please let me know!

Robbie K said...

@Not just Another Jennifer

You are fortunate that Kansas requires an IEP for gifted services. It makes getting what they need much easier!It is definitely a huge challenge finding ways to engage and challenge gifted kids. I wish there was a place for parents of Gifted Kids to talk about their struggles w/o it seeming like we are bragging, KWIM? thanks for your comments!

Robbie K said...

@ Anonymous I love you pediatrician's quote. lol! thanks for stopping by.

Robbie K said...

@ Kristin Good point that all children have unique needs. I saw a quote once about all children being gifted they just open up their gift at different times.

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

I don't have kids, so I don't know how much I could add to this wonderful conversation you have going on here, but I'd like to thank you for enlightening me to the challenges that parents of "gifted" children can face as well. I had never really considered just how difficult raising a gifted child might be.

Thanks for linking up with The Lightning and the Lightning Bug! This was a very interesting and informative post.

Ixy said...

They say genius is close to madness for a reason, and definitely challenging for parents of the "genius." It was a relief to me when I turned out to just be reasonably intelligent within a normal range, rather than the "gifted" designation I had growing up.

It was accurate at the time, but caused an incredible amount of social problems. People don't want to be around someone who always has the correct answer in class. At one point in fifth grade, I actually stooped to making deliberate mistakes on spelling tests so the teacher wouldn't announce I'd gotten perfect again.

On the positive side, university was fantastic. Suddenly it was cool to understand the material. Even better, I didn't always understand and felt challenged for the first time (math being a notable exception - guess God forgot that part of my brain!).

Good luck with your son. The older he gets and the wider his world, any issues will likely smooth themselves out.

Erin @ Momfog said...

I have a "Gifted" son and an "Autistic" son. I'd say they both have special needs, but obviously, the autistic one is the one labeled as such and the one with an IEP. He was also tested for the gifted class (photographic memory.)

I guess since I've been through the OT and PT and speech therapy with my autistic son, I don't see that my gifted child needs an IEP. While he does have "special needs," they are being met in his gifted and talented class. With autistic children, that's not always the case and that IEP makes all the difference in the world. Of course, if the gifted child has issues with OCD and ADD or ADHD, that's a different thing altogether.

Did all that even make sense? Sorry, it's kind of late.

Robbie K said...

I too have been through the OT, PT, ST merry go round with my other son who has hypotonia and was diagnosed with profound expressive speech delay. I had to fight hard and jump thru tons of hoops to get his services started.

And while my gifted son was "offered" the services I still have to advocate for him. IF he didn't have an IEP he would be sitting in gen ed classroom all day socializing and sharing his knowledge with 29 classmates and 1 annoyed teacher. He would also be bored out of his mind and have behavior problems.

With his IEP he is able to spend 90% of his day in GTC, he is also able to work 2-3 grade levels ahead w/i his regular classroom. If he exhibits mastery of a unit on the pre-test he gets to skip the whole thing and spend more time on independent research.

I look at as he would be unable to meet his potential and succeed at school w/o an IEP as his brother who needed OT, PT, and ST in order to walk and talk.

I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this!